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Valiant Malkia Scratched by Argentina, Again

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The National women's Volleyball team, Malkia Strikers, succumbed to hosts Argentina by straight sets (25-22, 25-21 and 25-13) in their opening match of the FIVB world Grand Prix Group Two match in Tucuman, Argentina Saturday morning.

Former captain Brackcides Agala contributed  17 points but even that could do very little to stop Argentina from completing a treble victory over David Lung'aho side whom they also beat in two test matches before the Saturday morning triumph.

Kenya's main aim is to fight relegation to Group Three and while a win against Dominican Republic and Bulgaria which will guarantee semi final berth is unlikely, they must try and win at least a match if they are to be considered for future participation at the most prestigious women's competition in the world.

Captain Mercy Moim, in a post match interview stressed that Kenya must post a better result in the coming matches.

"Tomorrow (next match) we're going to do it better because this was our first match," said Moim.

Strong start

Kenya was the first owner of the game with Violet Makuto spiking home but Argentina reacted just in time with setter Yael Castiglione surprising its rival defense to turn the score around, 16-14. From then on, the home team grew on its game with Leticia Boscacci as equal top scorer and monopolised on Kenya's mistakes to enter to the final track with a good difference. Even Kenya complicated its rival at the end with Agala, a spike of Fresco finishing the set 25-22.

Argentina continued on a good level, but Agala and Captain Mercy Moim conduced her team to lead the board. On the other hand, Emilce Sosa took a big part on Argentina's recovery and lead the home team to a partial win, 16-13. Orduna's squad played faster and surprised Kenya, unable to stop the performance of its rival to take the second set 25-21.

Middle blocker Sosa opened the last episode with some impressive spikes that Argentina then completed with great team work. The difference was growing as the home team pushed by Fernandez and its star "Mimi" Sosa. With its block on the spotlight, Argentina closed the game 25-13.

Lung'aho said: " I think we did our best in the first and second set and we did it better than in the previous matches we played against them. We have to accept that we lost and focus on the following matches. The experience we're getting here is go."

Kenya next face Bulgaria (3-2 winners over Dominican Republic) on June 5.

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Kenya Seek Argies' Scalp in Group 2 Debut

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Kenya will have to pull up their socks when the play hosts Argentina in their debut match at the tougher FIVB women's world Grand Prix Group Two in Tucuman, Saturday morning at Floresta Stadium.

Malkia Strikers will make their debut in this group after gaining promotion from a relatively less competitive Group Three which they won last June in Australia.

Little hope

Head coach David Lung'aho may have given up any hopes of pulling another surprise when he made it clear before he left for the Continental Olympic qualifiers in Puerto Rico that his main mission in Argentina will be to fight relegation back to group Three.

"We believe our players have what it takes to be the best but for this tournament we are taking as a learning process," said Lung'aho from Argentina.

Kenya beat Peru by straight sets in the 2015 group three finals played in Australia.

This will be the third time Kenya is meeting Argentina in less than two weeks. The two sides played two test matches in Buenos Aires and Palpala in the Northern Province of Jujuy with Argentina winning by straight sets in both meetings.

After Argentina, Kenya will take on Dominican Republic and Bulgaria who play each other in the other match. 

Argentina coach Guillermo Orduna already laid a marker for their season when they qualified for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games, the first time that the South American women's team have qualified for the spectacle.

Captain missing

Captain Yamila Nizetich has a foot injury, something that Kenya may want to capitalize on.

Kenya's other opponents, Bulgaria will aim for a strong start and so build momentum for when they host the Group 2 Final Four in Plovdiv. They too will be without their captain Elitsa Vasileva, who is carrying an ankle injury, but are looking forward to seeing what impact Emiliya Nikolova and Gergana Dimitrova can make.

The Dominican Republic arrived in Argentina having missed out on qualification for Rio 2016. Nonetheless they will be match prepared having already played crucial matches this year and are looking to young star Brayelin Martinez to spark the team in the absence of injured libero Brenda Castillo.

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